Many out there will already know that the original Pac-Man game has a maximum score of 3333360. It is due to a memory issue that after level 255, the game glitches out and any further progress is negated. Now, I don’t claim to be a Pac-Man master, something my paltry scores will confirm. I do proclaim though that the original Pac-Man game is repetitive and boring. Instead, my interests lie elsewhere within this Pac-Man Museum+ compilation, so I ventured into the virtual arcade to see what else is on offer.
As a sequel to the 2014 compilation, this new collection contains a total of 14 titles from the Pac-Man Pac-Catalogue. Starting off with the seminal title, also included are:
- Super Pac-Man
- Pac & Pal
- Pac-Man Arrangement Arcade Version
- Pac-Man Arrangement Console Version
- Pac-Man Championship Edition
- Pac ‘n Roll Remix
- Pac-Man Battle Royale
- Pac-Man 256
Straight from the off, it is worth noting that eight of these were already featured in the previous compilation. However, what has been added with Museum+ offer some real variation from simply chomping pellets. Those that have been copied over from the previous compilation get quite repetitive quickly.
The original Pac-Man should require no introduction. It is in this compilation by being the original, but truth be told, it is noticeably basic in comparison to many of the others. Going through the rest of the list chronologically, Super Pac-Man is a quasi-sequel to the original that tried to spice things up with the introduction of key and giant power pellets. It follows the same basic premise however, but on a smaller scale, thus increasing the difficulty. Pac & Pal also involves running around a maze, but this time there are no pellets at all. Instead, there are cards to flip over and corresponding items to collect.
It isn’t until Pac-Land that we see any major variation, but it isn’t exactly anything to write home about either. A side-scrolling platformer, Pac-Man must save the fairies by reaching the end of the stages. The ghosts are present – this time around driving cars, planes and other vehicles – and can still stop Pac-Man in his tracks. Pac-Land is a nice little bit of experimentation, but it is a very basic 2D platformer at best.
Pac-Mania is a return to the maze but this time it is in 3D and Pac-Man can jump over ghosts. Other than that, it plays identical. But it is worth mentioning at this point the input lag present across many titles in Pac-Man Museum+, as it is at its worst in Pac-Mania. It also rears an ugly head in several other titles such as Super Pac-Man and Pac-Man Championship Edition, but it is most noticeable here. Veterans players will recommend ‘reading-up’ your next move in the maze by hitting the directional button a second before you get to the junction, but the input lag here makes this impossible. In a game built upon quick reflexes and the necessity to change directions in a split second, the input lag will severely dampen your enjoyment. And, more importantly, your highscores.
Next up is Pac-Attack. Or, it would be if the game allowed me access to it. Many of the 14 titles in the museum need to be unlocked by completing missions within the other games. To unlock Pac-Attack, you simply need to play Pac-In-Time twice. However, having done so more than twice, it remains locked out for me. A shame really, as it is a falling tile puzzle game, and some much needed variation in this compilation.
On the subject of Pac-In-Time, it is another 2D platformer. Despite this game being a rebranded version of the classic PC platformer Fury of the Furries, the version in this compilation is that from the SNES and, as such, is completely different. And vastly inferior. There is a jitteriness to controlling Pac-Man in these 2D landscapes that just leaves you frustrated.
Then we get to the two Pac-Man Arrangement games. Again, I was only able to access the arcade version due to the console version not unlocking for me. It reverts back to the mazes but updates things substantially with new layouts and environmental obstacles too. As a pure Pac-Man offering, this is definitely one of the best in the collection.
Similar too with Pac-Man Championship Edition. Admittedly, this feels a bit lacking when compared to the sequel, but still offers some unique ways to chow down some pellets.
Then we get to Pac-Motos, which, if I am being honest, was the main draw of this compilation for myself. I spent a lot of time playing Motos when I was younger and it feels like it’s one of those games left behind in an age where remakes, rereleases and remasters are commonplace. Essentially, you have to push any and all enemies off the map. It’s as simple as that, but it gets addictive as you push for highscores. Pac-Motos is the same gameplay, but just with a Pac-Man makeover. It is a fantastic addition however, and I am once again left wondering why there hasn’t been a modern Motos release.
Pac ‘n Roll Remix is the closest game in the collection to Pac-Man World. Another platformer, but this time in three dimensions, it doubles down on an element of modern platformers: Collecting everything. Each level has a specific number of pellets to collect, and you will need most of them to pass through the gates that otherwise block progression. Rolling Pac-Man around feels responsive unlike the other platformers here, making it easily the best of the bunch.
Pac-Man Battle Royale is exactly that; upto four Pac-Man/Man’s/Men placed on the same maze, left to fight to be the last one standing. Power pellets mean you not only can eat ghosts, but the other Pac-Man/Man’s/Men still remaining. This one also suffers from input lag however, preventing it from being much fun in local multiplayer.
Finally, there is Pac-Man 256, which offers the most depth out of the bunch. A Pac-Man endless runner, you simply must outrun the glitch that rises up from the bottom of the screen. There are missions to complete and powerups to upgrade, whilst also being a lot of fun. This could be the game that keeps players returning to the collection.
There are also some glaring omissions that really feel like they could have been included to flesh the compilation out a little bit more, whilst providing further variation. The underrated 3D platformer Pac-Man World, kart racer Pac-Man World Rally and even Pac-Man 99 would have all been excellent inclusions; perfect for helping celebrate Pac-Man beyond even his iconic status. Even by putting in Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 instead of the original would have provided something a little different.
Pac-Man Museum+ tries to present itself in a novel way, and for the most part works. Rather than simply a long list of titles to jump into, you control Pac-Man around a customisable arcade. Approach the cabinets and choose which game you would like to play. Complete in-game missions to unlock new items to adorn your arcade, or even have new visitors join you. There is also a jukebox where you can select which piece of music accompanies you in the arcade. More songs can be unlocked by completing missions.
Pac-Man Museum+ has some really strong games to choose from; the likes of Pac-Motos, Pac ‘n Roll Remix and Pac-Man Arrangement are strong inclusions. There are also more than a few duds including Pac & Pal and Pac-Land. What makes many of these games worse is the input lag, an issue that is unforgivable. Playing a game from 1980 on an Xbox Series X and suffering from input lag? That simply should not happen. It’s not helped that a couple of the games cannot be accessed.
Pac-Man Museum+ is not the compilation that Pac-Man deserves, but in all honesty, that doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Get a crash course in the history of a videogame icon in Pac-Man Museum+ on Xbox